In 1959, Barbie and the float glass process were born. Turns out, Barbie was born a teenage fashion model and Sir Alastair Pilkington's invention of floating molten glass on a bed of molten tin spawned several competitive offspring.
But that's not all a doll and an industry have in common.
More than 125 careers later, Barbie is an architect, and as such, she was on hot pink display at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) show in New Orleans last week.
Float glass manufacturers also were at the show, where they displayed strength and marketing purpose in the form of new booths and products, as some metal and glass fabricators continued to roil the headlines.
Signaling a change in its approach to the market, Saint-Gobain exhibited its nine building products companies, including Vetrotech, the newly invested Sage Electrochromics, St. Gobain Glass, St. Gobain Solar, Certainteed and four other companies, in one large booth for the first time.
Guardian Industries' new large booth showcased exterior and interior glass applications. The side devoted to commercial products included the company's newest high-performance glass, SunGuard SNX 62/27. On the other side, the company introduced its new INGlass line of interior glass products, with three portable sample boxes and a handheld frame that architects and designers can use to test combinations for interior applications by layering textured glass, colored film and mirror, for example.
Pilkington and PPG updated their 2010 booths with new products to energize the architect's world. Pilkington promoted OptiView anti-reflective glass, which reduces both exterior and interior visible light reflectance to less than 2 percent. Stay tuned for a gold-coated glass product with some interesting history.
If only this sizeable glazing industry footprint was met in kind by architects walking the floor. Despite scheduling changes by the new show organizer, seminars and tours still claimed too many. So, to help them get deserved post-show attention, Glass Magazine is highlighting some of the new and impressive products and services on display, here.
On the last day of the show, I visited Barbie the Architect. After viewing the imaginative investment made by our industry at so many booths, it was gratifying to look into her 2011 Dream Townhouse and see that it included a glass (OK, it was plastic, but meant to resemble glass!) shower enclosure.
Here's hoping Architect Barbie--and her partner Ken--spec more glass far beyond the bathroom. It won't be for lack of options, inside and out.
Nicole Harris is publisher of Glass Magazine. Write her at email@example.com.